“Violence, Religion, and Conspiratorial Thinking” (AAR 2021)

I’m excited to begin my SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship this Fall in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. I give some initial details about the project here, and I will be presenting some of my work at the American Academy of Religion meetings in San Antonio this November.

The presentation is called “Violence, Religion, and Conspiratorial Thinking,” and it is part of a panel on “Cancel Culture, Climate Denial, and Conspiracy Thinking” in the Religion and Popular Culture unit.

Abstract:

Conspiratorial thinking has recently become a prominent matter of public and popular concern, taking root in different but important ways during the COVID-19 pandemic and the violent end of the Trump presidency. However, scholars of religion and violence will recognize conspiratorial thinking as a constituent part of long-standing prejudices, from antisemitism and racism to scapegoating and social conflict. This presentation examines continuities and discontinuities between conspiracism and violence, suggesting that the patterns of thinking and uses of the past that structure conspiratorial thinking can lend themselves to violences ranging from physical and political violations to structural violence and social prejudice. This presentation will also highlight some limitations of major works on conspiracy theories and address the problematic lack of attention to religion in the discourse on conspiracism.

By Max

Maxwell Kennel is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto.

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